Research Summary

Multinational Enterprises and Corporate Responsibility

by Nien-he Hsieh


Multinational enterprises, especially those operating in developing economies, face wide-ranging demands to help persons whose basic needs are unmet. Pharmaceutical companies, for example, are asked to provide access to life-saving therapies to patients in countries whose health-care systems do not provide for them, and apparel companies are pressured to require their suppliers to pay above-market wages to their workers.

In much of the debate, the answer to the question of whether managers have a responsibility to help meet these needs has turned on views about the nature and purpose of the for-profit corporation. To advance the conversation, Professor Hsieh addresses the question of responsibility in a manner consistent with a range of views about the corporation and without having to settle longstanding debates about such matters as shareholder primacy. The approach he takes is to start with widely accepted standards of minimally required conduct, such as a duty not to harm, and to examine what such standards require for the decisions of managers.